Springer Verlag, Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 11(227)
Ecological ditches have demonstrated the ability to filter and control nutrient transport to rivers. Few studies, however, have examined the internal loading of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in these systems due to vegetation decomposition. Most often, this concept is overlooked during evaluation of the nutrient removal rate of the ditches. Thus, the litter bag technique was used to analyze nutrient release to surface water during these processes. Mesocosm and field experiments were conducted to assess the growth characteristics and consequent nutrient accumulation by six ditch plant species. Of the six, Canna indica had the highest aboveground accumulation of N and P. About 85-95 % increase in the aboveground biomass was recorded at the end of the experimental period. The removal efficiencies of TN, TP, and NH4-N from the sewage reached up to 72-99.4, 64-98.7, and 75 %-100, respectively. Complete removal of all NO3-N was achieved. The amounts of N and P uptake by plant species were closely related to the biomass of plants. During the decaying process, N and P concentrations in the aboveground biomass decreased. These lost nutrients were eventually shifted to the system, which led to a deterioration of the water quality. Therefore, harvesting of aboveground biomass from inside the ditch is an appropriate intervention to prevent the release of N and P in the dormant season. The finding is important for planning an efficient eco-ditch system and predicting the influence of nutrient loading in the eco-ditches upon senescence of ditch plants.